An uptake of hand sanitiser drinking followed alcohol bans in Mparntwe Alice Springs

According to the CEO of Drugs and Alcohol Services Australia Eloise Page and one pharmaceutical distributer, consumption of alcohol-based hand sanitiser has been on the rise since the crackdowns on alcohol consumption in Mparntwe Alice Springs.

Video produced, filmed and edited by Chris Murrkarany Fitzpatrick

Drug and Alcohol Services Australia chief executive Eloise Page, says it is a trend that the town has seen before.

“We’ve seen through our outreach team, an uptake in hand sanitizer drinking, mixing that with Orange Juice, or lemonaide, and we’re definitely seeing clients coming into the sobering up shelter who are identifying that, that’s what’s causing their intoxication.”

A concerning trend, that world-renowned researcher in alcohol and other drugs, Professor Steve Allsop, warns can be deadly.

“The potential is that some people could quite easily overdose on these products because they are very high alcohol content, so we see people who have died as a consequence of alcohol poisoning.”

General Manager of Aussie Pharma Direct, Daniel Seldon, says his pharmaceutical distribution company has been told by their retailers about their hand sanitiser being stolen, with one school claiming to have had a large amount of hand sanitisers stolen and drunk by students.

“We were contacted by several schools in the last couple months particularly, looking for a hand sanitiser and surface disinfectant, which is still effective, yet didn’t have any alcohol in it, because they found some of the students were taking the hand sanitiser and stealing it and going away, sitting down at the creek and drinking it.”

Aussie Pharma Direct offers a solution in the form of a hospital grade alcohol-free hand sanitiser, VIROClear, which Mr Seldon says will prevent the problem.

A concerning trend which shows the importance of addressing the root issues with alcohol abuse, such as poverty, social isolation and mental health problems.